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Beyoncé vs. The World: Who's the Biggest Pop Star?

It could be argued that Houston’s own Beyoncé is the biggest pop star in America, even up against the likes of Taylor Swift, Adele and Drake. Queen Bey, who plays NRG Stadium on Thursday, laid claim to this status through a blend of talent and charisma, not to mention a unique talent for leading a very public life but maintaining a very private persona. Point being, when it comes to pop stars in America, Beyoncé rules all. But how does she measure up with fellow pop stars from around the globe? With the biggest pop star in America (in our opinion) scheduled to play her hometown tonight, let’s take a look at how Beyoncé measures up internationally.

As far as America goes, Beyoncé rules. However, Adele gets the edge on a global stage, and it all boils down to home-field advantage. Simply put, Adele is a bigger deal in the U.S. than is Beyoncé in the UK. Hell, Adele had the best-selling albums of 2011, 2012 and 2015 in the U.S., and her breakthrough album, 21is already the fourth-highest selling album in U.K. history. And yeah, Beyoncé played on our nation’s biggest stage when she headlined the Super Bowl Halftime Show this past February. Adele just turned the 2017 version down. Scoreboard.

J Balvin, the Colombian reggaeton phenomenon, topped the U.S. Latin charts with his 2016 release, Energia. The album has since sold more than three million copies, his second consecutive release to achieve multiplatinum status. J Balvin has even taken a page out of Beyoncé’s book when it comes to making political statements; he bowed out of his Miss USA 2015 performance in protest of Donald Trump’s comments regarding illegal immigrants. It would have been his first performance on mainstream American television. He may not be Beyoncé on a global scale, but dude certainly has conviction.

This Egyptian pop star is certainly a worker; he's released a staggering 13 albums over the past 16 years. That includes duets with such American hitmakers as Snoop Dogg, Shaggy, Pitbull, and Akon. Like Beyoncé  Hosny isn't just a singer; he also writes, acts, directs, and composes music. Like Beyoncé, Hosny is near-universally beloved in his home country. Unlike Beyoncé  however, his star hasn't quite crossed over the pond just yet. 

Beyoncé is arguably the Queen of Pop as it stands today. Enrique is regarded by many as the King of Latin Pop. Beyoncé is a once-in-a-generation talent whose music appeals to a variety of races and lifestyles. So too is Enrique. Beyoncé has a famous spouse. Enrique has dated former tennis phenom Anna Kournikova off and on for the past 15 years. This one is basically a wash on a global scale, though Enrique has been doing his solo thing nearly a decade longer than has Beyoncé.

Juanes and Beyoncé have one thing in common, aside from international acclaim: both know what it’s like to set out on their own and experience success. Juanes, former member of Colombian rock band Ekhymosis, branched out on his own 15 years ago with his platinum debut, Fijate Bien. Since then, he has sold more than 15 million records worldwide. It’s not exactly Beyoncé ditching Destiny’s Child and becoming a pop icon, but it’s pretty damn impressive nonetheless.

Now THIS is a matchup. Both Beyoncé and Ricky are former pop band members who found fame as solo artists. Both absolutely exploded on the scene with their respective debuts – Beyoncé’s Dangerously In Love in 2003; Martin’s self-titled English debut in 1999. Both are among the most beautiful people on the planet. And both are known just as much for their performances and stage shows as their lyrical talents (Martin’s performance at the 1999 Grammys still ranks among the award show’s all-time highlights). Ricky has slowed down in recent years to focus on family, and has mostly returned to Spanish-language recording. But at his peak, there wasn’t a bigger star on the planet.

Aside from a couple of EPs, Robyn has maintained a pretty low profile the past few years. But the Swedish product is still a superstar in her native country — six of her albums have debuted at either No. 1 or 2 on the Swedish albums chart. Robyn even flirted with success in the U.S. for a spell in the '90s, with a pair of singles that charted well in the U.S. — “Do You Know (What It Takes)” and “Show Me Love.” Robyn certainly gets points for longevity, but in the battle of single-named divas, Beyoncé rolls on this one.

The British-born Welch is similar to Beyoncé, in that both opt for fashion choices that only they themselves can pull off. Not that Welch hides from her interesting fashion choices: “For the stage, it's The Lady of Shalott meets Ophelia...mixed with scary gothic bat lady,” she told Venus Vine in 2012. Both women possess distinct, booming voices. But whereas Beyoncé opts for a solo show (she outgrew “group member” status a long time ago), Welch is the face and voice of popular rock band Florence + the Machine. This one is essentially a wash, in that it doesn’t really appear that either woman has much interest in transitioning over to the other’s career path.

A few years ago, Li Yuchun — a Chinese singer, songwriter, actress, and fashionista — was awarded the 2013 MTV Europe Music Award for Best Worldwide Act. Among those she beat out for this award? Some cat by the name of Justin Bieber. Li has logged a staggering 52 singles on the Chinese radio charts. Coupled with her standing in China as an actress, director, fashion type, and philanthropist, it's not exactly a stretch to call Li Yuchun the Beyoncé of China; or perhaps Beyoncé  the Li Yuchun of America. 
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Clint Hale enjoys music and writing, so that kinda works out. He likes small dogs and the Dallas Cowboys, as you can probably tell. Clint has been writing for the Houston Press since April 2016.
Contact: Clint Hale